Apostille vs. Authentication: What is the best for your case?

Are you planning on living overseas? Or maybe you are thinking of doing business internationally? If so, you will need to certify and authenticate some of your documents. This process is essential for your papers to be accepted in the country you are planning to go to. Do you think it is a simple matter? Well, not quite. Authorities have become even keener on the documents they come across. Using a US document in another country will have to go through some checks. It is called “legalization”.
Let’s see it:

Legalization: Apostille or Authentication?

Legalization consists of the authorities reviewing your paperwork and deeming it suitable for use in a foreign country. It seems simple enough, but there is more. The most important question is: where do you plan to use the documents?

There are two categories in this case:
1Between countries that are party to the Hague Convention: if you plan to use the documents in a country that is part of this convention, you will only certify the documents through an apostille.

2Between countries that are not a party to the Hague Convention: the documents must go through authentication and legalization processes. It involves more steps, but you can do it. If you are going to use the documents in a non-party state, you will need to opt for the second option.

Regardless of the option, you will need to obtain the documents notarized and reviewed by government agencies.


Thanks to the Hague Convention, the legalization of foreign public documents is a very simple task, compared to what this entailed before that agreement.
So how do you get an apostille?
Submitting the document to a competent authority who stamps it on the document or attaches it to a separate sheet of paper. Note that you can also use a certified copy of the document. The competent authorities will be any agency from the courts to the secretary of state.


If the country you want to go to is not part of the Hague Convention, the apostille will not be valid. In this case, you must authenticate and legalize the document.

How does this work?
You sign the document and notarize it before submitting it to a competent authority for evaluation. If all is well, the state department can now certify the document. However, the chain of events does not stop here, and there is an additional step: the foreign country must certify the document. For this to happen, the Secretary of State sends the document to said embassy or consulate, where the final certification is made.

What about translated documents?

You may have a document that was not originally written in English. In this case, you must attach a certified English translation of it and have the document notarized. Otherwise, if the document was originally in English, you will need to provide the original document as per state law.

We recommend you...

You probably know that working with the authorities takes time, and also consider the number of people doing applications at the same time as you. The sooner you can start your processes, the better. To help you prepare, keep the following in mind:

Apostilles are usually straightforward, but they can sometimes become complicated.

Authentication is much more complex since it depends on the approval of an embassy or consulate.

When, in addition, the inconvenience of the current global pandemic is added, a reduced processing speed is expected.
Also, countries are governed by their own sets of rules and you should know what will apply to you and what documents you will need to provide. This process is usually time-consuming, and in the end, starting late can be frustrating.

We are here to help you

The time-consuming nature of these processes makes outsourcing a great idea. We are happy to assist you. 

Our companies process apostilles every single day. If you need help with these processes, WE ARE HERE FOR YOU!

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